INA, Ill. (March 13, 2020) — He was a major contributor to education in Southern Illinois, from his service to the Rend Lake College Foundation Board of Directors to his work with the Sesser-Valier Unit School District. George Slankard, retired magazine publisher and pillar of the Sesser community, passed away last week at his home in Sesser. He was 95 years old.
But Slankard’s legacy will live on in the generosity he and his beloved wife Mary showed to the local community. The Slankard’s were major donors to the RLC Foundation earning the Platinum Seal Award for their contributions. As recently as last December, the Slankard’s generously donated the lead gift for the Foundation’s Hub Campaign, an addition and renovation to the college’s Learning Resource Center.
“Mr. Slankard generously shared his expertise, his time and his gifts with Rend Lake College. During our visits, it was clear that he cared deeply about education and his community. He often talked about the future of our region and the important role of the college. Mr. Slankard was a great man who will be dearly missed, though his legacy at RLC will remain strong for generations to come,” said RLC Foundation Chief Executive Officer Kay Zibby-Damron.
Slankard was first elected to the RLC Foundation Board of Directors in April 1997, eventually achieving Emeritus status on June 13, 2017. He is one of five board members to ever hold Emeritus status along with Sam Mateer, Verna D. “Millie” Caldwell, Mark S. Kern and Howard L. Payne.
“We appreciate all the financial support that George Slankard has afforded Rend Lake College and its students,” said RLC President Terry Wilkerson.
Slankard, a 1943 graduate of Goode-Barren Township High School, has roots that run deep in Sesser. His father was the editor for the weekly newspaper in Sesser before it moved to Christopher. Slankard, after graduating from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University, would follow in the family’s publishing business by running Slankard’s C&H Publishing Co. and Slankard Publishing. Popular publications edited and printed by Slankard include The Sesser Review (newspaper, 1941-60), Cars & Parts, The Lunker Hole, Outdoor Illinois, Whistle, American Cooner and Hunter’s Horn.
Outside of publishing, he was a co-builder of Sesser Pharmacy and Sesser Dairy Queen. He was a founding member of the International Magnolia Society and printed its newsletter for many years. He was a member of the Sesser City Council, Sesser Chamber of Commerce, Sesser Lions Club and ran the town’s annual car show for more than 30 years. In 2010, he was recognized by the Sesser Valier Unit School District as a Distinguished Alumnus. He is credited as the father of the longstanding Sesser Homecoming.
A celebration of George’s life will be held in the summer when the magnolias and gardens are in full bloom. Memorial contributions, in memory of Mr. Slankard, may be made to the Rend Lake College Foundation for the RLC Learning Resource Center Project. Gifts can be made online at www.rlc.edu/give-now.